‘Bulldog’ top pitching prospect Shaun Anderson shines on mound, at plate in MLB debut

By Ben Leonard

SAN FRANCISCO — With his shoulder-length blonde hair, deeply Florida-tanned skin and surfer-esque stoicism off the field, Giants’ top pitching prospect Shaun Anderson doesn’t scream “bulldog.”

In a 4-3 win against the Toronto Blue Jays in his major league debut, Anderson brought bite both on the mound and at the plate, giving up just two hits in five innings and slamming a double off the wall. Aramis Garcia, who caught for most of Anderson’s innings in Triple-A Sacramento and was behind the plate Wednesday, knew he was a “bulldog” on the mound, but didn’t think he had chops at the plate.

“In Richmond, we thought he was going to hurt himself because of how hard he was swinging out there,” said Garcia, who hit with Anderson in the offseason.

Anderson roped the double and later a single in his two at-bats, while holding Toronto (17-25) to just two earned runs and striking out five in the Giants’ (18-24) win. The Giants’ No. 4 overall prospect flashed a fastball that topped out around 95 mph that helped keep Toronto off the board. After allowing a run in the first, Anderson settled in, giving up just a run off a wild pitch and another unearned run following an error and another wild pitch.

“That’s a pretty nice debut, to get a couple hits to go with that,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “He did his job. Nice job to give us a chance to win the game.”

As his swing has apparently evolved, Anderson has evolved into a starting pitcher from his college days at the University of Florida, where he was a reliever on an elite pitching staff. In his final season in Gainesville, Anderson gave up just six runs in just over 45 innings while tying a Florida record for saves in a season.

Five other Gators from that team were taken in the top 10 rounds of the 2016 MLB Draft, when Anderson was taken in the third round by the Boston Red Sox. Anderson found his way to the Giants’ organization in a July 2017 trade that sent infielder Eduardo Nunez to Boston.

Anderson excelled in the Giants’ farm system in 2018, posting a 3.69 ERA in 25 games, all but one of them starts. He continued to pitch well in Triple-A Sacramento this year, striking out nearly 10 batters per nine innings to the tune of a 4.11 ERA—better than average for the hitter-friendly league.

But just a few months ago, the Giants weren’t sure if Anderson was a reliever or a starter. Right now, it’s pretty clear: Anderson is in the rotation, as Bochy said after the game.

Anderson boasts a biting changeup, curveball and a slider that he can throw two different ways—one that breaks down and one that breaks more like a traditional slider. He relied on his slider as a reliever at Florida and had to learn to use his fastball more in the transition to professional baseball.

Anderson showed some areas for improvement, including a curveball that got roped one of the two times he threw it, two wild pitches and a pickoff attempt to first that left a runner on third.

“That’s on me. That’s something I need to limit,” Anderson said of the wild pitches and the pickoff try. “Limiting those mistakes could have helped me win.”

Overall, Garcia thought Anderson did a good job staying composed in his debut, especially for a pitcher that tends to get pretty amped up for starts, Garcia said. He’s a starter with a reliever’s mentality, he added.

“He was pretty composed. It was good to see,” Garcia said. “He’s a bulldog out there. He’s not afraid. He’ll challenge anyone. He’s not afraid to go after guys.”

Having Garcia behind the dish put Anderson at ease.  

“It was a good thing from a comfort standpoint. I didn’t shake a whole lot because I trust him and he trusts me,” Anderson said. “It gave me confidence out there on the mound.”

Anderson isn’t by any means a phenom or a highly-touted prospect—he is ranked No. 4 overall in the Giants’ farm system, and you won’t find him on any top-100 prospect lists.

He may not be the answer to the struggling Giants’ woes, but for now, he appears ready to make an impact at the big league level. Nothing seemed to phase him: not wild pitches, errors in the field behind him nor phenom Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who went hitless.

“I tried to keep my expectations level. Just wanted to do what I could to keep the team in the game and get off on a good streak,” Anderson said. “I felt pretty calm for most of the game.”

Giants’ top pitching prospect to make debut Wednesday against Blue Jays

mercurynews.com photo: San Francisco Giants starter Shaun Anderson had quiet a Major League debut with two hits and fine start against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday afternoon at Oracle Park in San Francisco.

By Ben Leonard

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants’ flurry of May roster moves has continued, but their most recent call-up may be the most significant yet.

After 35 May roster moves before Wednesday, struggling San Francisco (17-24) has called up its top pitching prospect, 24-year old right-hander Shaun Anderson, to make his major league debut against the Toronto Blue Jays (17-24) Wednesday at 12:45 p.m. at Oracle Park. Anderson will try to stabilize his slot in a Giants’ rotation that has struggled mightily outside of veterans Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija.

“He’s a guy that’s throwing as well as anybody” in Triple-A, manager Bruce Bochy said, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. “So that’s why he’s here.”

Starter Tyler Beede was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento in a corresponding move. Beede gave up 10 earned runs in his last three outings, lasting just 6.2 innings. Anderson will fill struggling starter Dereck Rodriguez’s slot in the rotation after he was also optioned to Sacramento May 11.

Anderson hails from the University of Florida, where he was a lockdown closer and then was drafted by the Red Sox in the third round of the 2016 MLB Draft. The Giants acquired Anderson in a 2017 trade deadline deal that sent infielder Eduardo Nunez to Boston.

Anderson isn’t by any means a blue-chip prospect, but he has pitched solidly in just over three years in the minor leagues.

Anderson posted a 3.45 ERA in Double-A Richmond for the Giants in 2018 before posting a 4.18 ERA to finish the season for Triple-A Sacramento. He has kept that up this year in Sacramento, posting a 4.11 ERA with a 3.55 FIP and striking out nearly 10 batters per nine innings.

Anderson will face veteran right-hander Edwin Jackson, who will make his Blue Jays debut Wednesday. When he throws his first pitch for Toronto, Jackson will have pitched for a record 14 major league teams. Jackson was acquired from the Oakland Athletics for cash after posting a 3.33 ERA in 2019.

Rain is expected in the forecast Wednesday during and prior to the contest. Grounds crews covered the field with a tarp and worked on the field Wednesday morning. NBC Sports Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic reported that the Giants say there is a window to play the game, with the heaviest rain set to come more than four hours after the scheduled first pitch. 



Brandon Drury, 2B

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B

Rowdy Tellez, 1B

Randal Grichuk, CF

Freddy Galvis, SS

Teoscar Hernandez, LF

Billy McKinney, RF

Luke Maile, C

Edwin Jackson, SP


Joe Panik, 2B

Steven Duggar, RF

Evan Longoria, 3B

Pablo Sandoval, 1B

Mac Williamson, LF

Brandon Crawford, SS

Kevin Pillar, CF

Aramis Garcia, C

Shaun Anderson, SP

Belt accuses umpire of trying to end game quickly after Giants’ 6-3 loss to Reds

Photo credit: San Francisco Giants’ Brandon Belt (9) is congratulated after hitting a home run against the Cincinnati Reds during the third inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

By Ben Leonard

SAN FRANCISCOWhen home plate umpire Doug Eddings rung him up to end the game, Brandon Belt didn’t bother holding back.

Immediately after Raisel Iglesias pounded a fastball away to close a 6-3 Reds’ win, the 6-foot-5 Texan turned his head and started screaming at Eddings while everyone else walked off the field. More than 20 minutes later in the clubhouse, Belt was still fuming, even in the midst of a hot streak, accusing Eddings of trying to bring the game to a quick end.

“Multiple times, I’ve heard that guy say or insinuate that he wants to get through the game fast,” Belt said. “Then he makes calls like that that I can’t imagine he thought was a strike. You’ve got to wonder.”

Belt wouldn’t go into details of what Eddings said or when, but said Eddings was one of a couple bad apples of umpires in a league with many quality officials.

“You have a feeling that one or two of them just want to get the game over with, whether through it’s what they say or what they do,” Belt said. “I’m not sure if they’re connected or not, but if you don’t want it to be, then don’t say it.”

According to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Henry Schulman, crew chief Joe West declined to comment, saying, “I don’t comment on postgame comments and things said in anger.”

Belt’s rage ultimately made no difference in the outcome, as his Giants (22-22) fell just short of a sweep of lowly Cincinnati (15-29). The first baseman finished the day 2-for-5 with a solo home run as part of a 9-for-18 tear in his last four games, but a four-run Reds’ first inning was ultimately too much for San Francisco to overcome.

Rookie Andrew Suarez looked like he wasn’t going to make it out of the first after allowing the first four hitters of the game to score, including three on former Giant Adam Duvall’s homer. Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy thought the slight left-hander was trying too hard to power his way through hitters in the early going—and Suarez agreed.

“My adrenaline was pumping too much in the first,” Suarez said. “After those first four runs, I just tried to settle in and go as deep as I could.’

Considering it took him 29 pitches to get his first out, Suarez did go deep, rebounding to give the Giants six innings and allowing just one more run—an unearned run after a passed ball from Nick Hundley in the fifth. The 25-year-old gave up just three hits after the first inning.

The Giants scratched and clawed their way back into the game, but couldn’t get the big hit to take the lead. San Francisco quickly responded with two runs in the first on an RBI double from Andrew McCutchen and a Pablo Sandoval sacrifice fly against ex-Mets’ ace Matt Harvey.

The ‘Dark Knight’s’ mystique has been all but defiled, but that didn’t stop him from bearing down when it counted. He found himself in a mess with two runners in scoring position and no outs in the second, but worked his way through the inning unscathed. Despite giving up the solo shot to Belt, Harvey limited the damage and kept Cincinnati ahead for good.

Harvey finished just four innings and gave up three runs, but struck out the side to end his day and stem the tide for the Reds to pull away and avoid a sweep. Three Reds relievers combined for five innings of scoreless, five-hit ball to cap off Harvey’s start and send Cincinnati home on a high note.

A former All-Star, Harvey found his way to Cincinnati after struggling mightily since 2016 and weathering numerous off-the-field incidents—the most recent of which reportedly partying the night before a start. Bochy was impressed with his velocity—Harvey touched 95 mph at times on the radar gun—and thought his stuff was still there, but thought his command was not quite as sharp as he had seen before.

“But he’s healthy. You look at that more than anything,” Bochy said. “He just needs to get out there and pitch.”

The Giants will welcome the Colorado Rockies (23-20) to AT&T Park for the first time this season for a four-game set beginning Thursday. Jeff Samardzija (1-2, 6.94) is slated to square off against the Rockies’ Chad Bettis (4-1, 3.12) to open the series.

Jones’ 32 saves, Donskoi’s goal gives Sharks shootout win against Flames 3-2

San Jose Sharks right wing Joonas Donskoi (27) celebrates his game winning goal with teammate Brent Burns (88) during a shootout in an NHL hockey game Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017, in San Jose, Calif. San Jose won 3-2. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

By Ben Leonard

SAN JOSEThe end of the road to Martin Jones’ 100th win was rocky.

Heading into December, Jones sat at 98 career wins, but struggled mightily, losing five of his first six games and allowing four or more goals in all of them. Second-year goalie Aaron Dell blew him out of the water during that stretch, allowing just seven goals in four games.

But once he hit the century mark with a shutout against the Kings Dec. 23, he seems to have turned a corner.

Jones recorded 32 saves in San Jose’s 3-2 shootout win against the Calgary Flames, including one after Joe Pavelski’s goal to start the shootout to give the Sharks an early advantage. After Burns and MIkael Backlund missed in succession, rookie Joonas Donskoi scored to seal the victory and give Jones victory No. 101.   

It wasn’t easy for San Jose, which battled back from a 2-1 first period deficit to cap off a 4-1-1 stretch against Pacific Division rivals. Calgary owned the boards, beating the Sharks in hit count 28-11, but San Jose found a way to become more physical later in the game and push it to overtime.

“We just started winning more puck battles on the wall and started to manage the puck a bit better,” Jones said when asked what changed for San Jose. “But when you go for three days of not skating and getting just one practice in, it can be hard to start the game. But we did a good job fighting through it and sticking with our game to get two points.”

Timo Meier erased the 2-1 deficit that had stood for nearly 35 minutes midway through the third period with a goal, sending the Sharks (20-11-4) to overtime, where Jones made four saves. San Jose’s deficit wasn’t for a lack of chances—it put up 21 shots in the first two periods, including 13 in the second, before Meier’s goal in the third.

“You didn’t sense any panic on the bench,” head coach Peter DeBoer said. “That comes from the fact that we had some really good looks. We only had one goal in the first two periods, but we felt that there was a goal there somewhere, we just didn’t stick it in the net. There was a feeling that if we just kept with it, eventually we would get one.”

The Flames (18-15-4) wasted no time building their early lead, scoring just over four minutes into the game on Garnet Hathaway’s second goal of the season. Pavelski answered three minutes later on a power play goal, but Backlund added a power play goal of his own just before the 16-minute mark in the first period.

Despite Backlund’s goal, the Sharks allowed Calgary to score just the one power play goal in three ties— they rank No. 2 in the NHL in penalty kill percentage. San Jose has also been solid itself a man up, ranking No. 6 in power play percentage.

The Sharks’ five-on-five offense, on the other hand, has not been stellar—they rank 22nd in the league in goals scored at 2.7 per game.

“It’s something we need to improve,” Donskoi said. “Our power play has been good, but we need to improve our five on five game and go from there.”

At a time in the year in which teams can separate themselves in division races, the Sharks are trending in the right direction. They’ve racked up three straight wins, but San Jose’s captain certainly isn’t satisfied.

“You’ve got to put some streaks together,” Pavelski said. “To win three in a row, you can’t be satisfied. You’ve got to go for four or five. I don’t know if this is the time or not, hopefully you can start creating a little separation.”

Giants’ sellout streak ends at 530 games

By Ben Leonard

SAN FRANCISCO—The stage seemed set for a comeback.

After an abysmal first half, Matt Moore had the benefit of a fresh start imposed by the carefully scripted spectacle in Miami. With a 3-1 lead and two outs in the fifth, it all seemed to be falling into place.

But just as quickly as it had come back, it slipped away. Moore smothered a bullet into the ground, took one casual step towards first, and lobbed the ball into the Indians’ bullpen. Amidst the quiet, a few piercing boos reverberate over the cheer of red-and-blue draped Cleveland fans—but just barely.

And so has gone the Giants season.

Perhaps it marked the ceremonial close of the sellout era—which began when a different but similarly perplexing left-hander, Jonathan Sanchez, made good on his promise to take the Giants back to the postseason in front of thousands of twirling orange rags. Monday was the first time in 530 games that the Giants failed to sell out AT&T Park—the second longest streak in baseball history.

“None of us saw it quite unraveling as much as it has, and it’s been a tough go,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “But the one constant has been our support, and we can’t thank them enough. They certainly did their part….We’re disappoitned we’re not in a better position for our fans because there is not a place in baseball like what we have here. There isn’t—it’s unmatched. Starting from 2010, the sellouts, so we thank them for hanging in there during these tough times.”

After winning three championships since 2010, San Francisco in a position that makes its fans queasy—too talented to rebuild, but not nearly good enough to buy. Sitting 29.5 games back in the NL West, the Giants will now face many tough questions about the direction of the franchise heading into the August 1 trade deadline. Can they afford to wait for Moore to figure it out? Can they continue to win with this core? Or is it time to set sail?

In a season where everything has gone wrong for the Giants, it all seemed to come together Monday—they failed to make throws to first base twice. The Giants will have to think long and hard about whether to exercise Moore’s $9 million club option for next season, but the left-hander certainly made strides in San Francisco’s 5-3 loss.

“He had great command of all his pitches—he was throwing with a lot of confidence out there tonight,” Bochy said. “It’s a shame what happened there 15 feet from first base—he just held on to it too long. But it’s encouraging to see how he threw. He should have fared better.”

Moore was coming off an outing July 7 in which he gave up 12 hits and got just ten outs against Miami, and he certainly rebounded. Moore was charged with just two runs in seven innings, striking out five, lowering his MLB-worst ERA to 5.81.

It clearly has not just been Moore—eveyrthing that could go wrong for the Giants has so far. Madison Bumgarner was lost for months after a dirt bike accident. For much of the season, the offense was on pace for its worst output since 1902.

The fan support has dwindled as the season has drudged on, with orange seeping out and the dull glow of green plastic chairs increasingly shining through.

Now, only time will tell whether they can start a new streak.

Cover Image: July 17, 2017: Umpire Tony Randazzo (11) breaks up a San Francisco meeting on the mound in the sixth inning, during a MLB baseball game between the Cleveland Indians and the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California. Valerie Shoaps/CSM (Cal Sport Media via AP Images)











Giants’ Belt to avoid disabled list stint; Bochy trying Jones and Hwang at first

By Ben Leonard

SAN FRANCISCO—It won’t save a lost season, but the Giants won’t have to wait long for Brandon Belt to return.

After being a late scratch from the lineup Sunday with a sprained wrist, the first baseman will avoid a stint on the disabled list, San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Monday. Rookie Jae-Gyun Hwang will still start at first in place of Belt Monday, but Belt should be back starting Tuesday and is available off the bench for Monday’s contest against the Cleveland Indians.

A third baseman by trade, Hwang took reps at the hot corner in spring training and started 28 games in his lone season in the minor leagues this year at Triple-A Sacramento. A former slugging star in Korea, Hwang has hit just .182 in 36 plate appearances, but Bochy said he is confident in Hwang.

“He’s ready to go [and play first],” Bochy said. “You look at the numbers, and you think they’re not great, but he’s been having great at-bats. He’s very well-prepared when he goes up there. He studies all these guys and probably knows as much as any of us about them. He may look bad on one pitch, but you don’t see it twice in one at-bat.”

In the minor leagues, San Francisco has been experimenting with another third baseman manning first base—Ryder Jones. The Giants’ 2013 second-round pick took grounder with Hwang Monday afternoon and will begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Sacramento Tuesday. In his first cup of tea at the big league level, Jones reached base just twice in 23 plate appearances but posted a .944 OPS in 53 games with Sacramento this season.

Jones has played mostly third base and some left field in his career, but Bochy said he likes to keep his players versatile to improve his team’s depth and flexibility. Having Jones or Hwang playing well at first could give Bochy flexibility to move Belt to left when he returns—or have an adequate option if Belt ever misses time.

The Giants have been desperate for answers at third base this season, getting the worst overall offensive value in the big leagues at the position. Splitting time between the infield and outfield, Eduardo Núñez has played just 41 games at the hot corner, and San Francisco has used seven third baseman this year. With the Giants already 29 games behind the first-place Dodgers, Núñez, whose deal expires after this season, could be dealt before the August 1 trade deadline, which would leave an opportunity for someone to take control of the position.


Cover image: San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt is greeted in the dugout after scoring during the fourth inning of the team’s baseball game against the Detroit Tigers, Wednesday, July 5, 2017, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Oakland Athletics second half preview: Expect changes in bunches

By Ben Leonard

For the second straight year, the Oakland Athletics have just one All-Star participating in the festivities in Miami—first baseman Yonder Alonso.

Now, he hopes not to be part of what could be another firesale in Oakland.

“I feel like the guys here are hungry and they are very aware that I can do good things for this club,” Alonso said to the San Jose Mercury News. “It would be great to be a leader, not so much with my voice, but by setting an example, just going out every day and grinding with the guys and helping them get better.”

A former top prospect that failed to settle in with the San Diego Padres, Alonso has found his stride with the Athletics, setting career highs in home runs and wRC+ in just 79 games. Alonso had never hit double-digit homers in the big leagues, but already has 20 long balls this season.

Alonso is just one of many Athletics who could be moving on to new clubs this summer before the August 1st trade deadline, including starting pitcher Sonny Gray, relief pitcher Sean Doolittle and infielder Jed Lowrie, among others. Twenty-one games back of the first-place Astros in the AL West, Oakland hasn’t had a winning season since 2015 and has lost 237 games since—general manager Billy Beane is likely going to hit reset and try to build for the future.

That could open the door for younger players to see more playing time, including Franklin Barreto, the A’s top prospect and 21-year old second baseman who could fill Lowrie’s spot. Barreto struggled at the plate in his first taste of big league ball this summer, hitting just .190 in 46 at-bats, but did launch two home runs, including one in his debut June 24 against the White Sox.

Other young players have stepped up their game for Oakland this season, including second-year pitcher Sean Manaea, who has led the team with a 3.76 ERA after a rocky rookie campaign. Acquired from Kansas City in 2015 in a trade that sent Ben Zobrist to the Royals, Manaea has struck out just shy of a batter an inning this season, up from his 7.71 K/9 mark last season.

Ryon Healy has also continued his success from last season in his second year, clubbing 19 home runs before the break and posting a .804 OPS.

Cover Image: Oakland Athletics’ Yonder Alonso is greeted by Ryon Healy after hitting a solo home run o a pitch from Seattle Mariners’ Andrew Moore during the third inning of a baseball game, Saturday, July 8, 2017, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)

Crawford’s slick defense steadies reeling Giants—for a night

By Ben Leonard

SAN FRANCISCO—With the Giants in the wrong part of the tabloids and the standings, someone needed to be a stopper.

Brandon Crawford did just that.

Despite booting an early grounder in the second inning—that ended up going for a hit—Crawford’s slick defensive play steadied the reeling Giants, which had lost 12 of their last 13 games before a 9-2 win Monday night. After the shortstop made a clean diving stop and a quick throw to third to end the second inning, the Giants responded with four runs in the next two frames.

“Hopefully, this did a lot for their confidence and will take a little pressure off,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said after the Giants’ first win in nearly a week. “We need to quit fighting it so much. There’s a lot of talent, and there’s no reason we can’t put consistent runs on the board.”

When Desmond slapped the third inning grounder in the hole with two runners on, the Rockies were threatening with two men on base and down just 1-0. Crawford quickly broke to his right and nabbed it in open space before popping up to connect with third baseman Ryder Jones, in just his third big league game, for the putout.

Crawford said that it was a pretty “heads-up” play by the rookie, even though they had just discussed the possibility of Jones covering the bag for a force play just a day earlier.

“I don’t think I’ve ever made that play going to third base,” Crawford said. “But we talked about it, and he was there.”

One win certainly won’t do much to help the club climb back from a 23.5 game hole in the NL West, but it’s certainly a start. Despite having nearly the same lineup that went to the NLDS last season, San Francisco has the worst offensive numbers in franchise history in term since 1902—one year after the assembly line was invented—San Francisco will need more than just one 14-hit, 9-run effort to get back on track.

“I don’t think we’ve forgotten about it (how to hit well),” Crawford said. “It’s just been awhile since we’ve all come together at the same time and contributed together.”

Cover image: June 26, 2017: San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford (35) fielding a ground ball hit by the Rockies’ Trevor Story, during a MLB baseball game between the Colorado Rockies and the San Francisco Giants on LGBT Night at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California. Valerie Shoaps/CSM (Cal Sports Media via AP Images)

San Jose Earthquakes post game wrap: Rapids swamp Earthquakes 3-0

By Ben Leonard

The Earthquakes came into last-place Denver looking to build momentum and continue their winning streak—but were quickly stopped in their tracks.

Behind two goals from Shkelzen Gashi, the Colorado Rapids blanked San Jose 3-0 to end their two-game win streak Saturday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce, Colorado. Gashi scored the first goal of the night for Colorado roughly midway through the first half, and the Rapids never looked back.

“We wanted to play a different game,” Earthquakes midfielder Jahmir Hyka said. “We did it a little in the beginning, and then the goal pushed us a little down.”
Six minutes after Gashi’s goal, Dominique Badji answered the call for Colorado once again, giving the Rapids a 2-0 lead on a goal, assisted by Alan Gordon. Earthquakes head coach Dominic Kinnear said that the second goal altered the team’s mindset.
“The second goal, for me, right before halftime changes the score but also the mentality,” Kinnear said. “As many good things as we did last week, we made a lot of mistakes this week and they took advantage of it.”
The Earthquakes weren’t able to get anything going on offense despite taking 11 shots—they were only able to take two shots on goal. San Jose wasn’t able to play as tough as Colorado, which gathered 16 fouls as compared to the Earthquakes’ five.
Kinnear said the Earthquakes played better soccer in the second half, but still yielded another goal to Gashi in the 57th minute, assisted by Badji and Gordon.
Saturday marked the third time this season that San Jose failed to score a goal.

Cover Image:

San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Florian Jungwirth, left, clears the ball as Colorado Rapids forward Alan Gordon defends during the first half of an MLS soccer match Saturday, May 13, 2017, in Commerce City, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Moore gives Giants more than enough, powers San Francisco past Reds

By Ben Leonard

SAN FRANCISCO—After a late night out under the lights, the Giants needed a pick-me-up.

San Francisco needed to use eight pitchers to throw 269 pitches to eke out a 17-inning 3-2 win against the Cincinnati Reds in the depths of Friday night—and had to wake up bright and early Saturday to get after it again.

But despite early bouts of wildness, Matt Moore gave the weary Giants the boost they needed, throwing 120 pitches to take the ball into the eighth inning to carry San Francisco to a 3-1 win Saturday. With help from some slick defense from Brandon Crawford, fresh off the disabled list, Moore wiggled out of traffic, including a bases-loaded predicament in the second inning after walking Reds’ pitcher Lisalverto Bonilla on five pitches, helping conserve a taxed bullpen.

“There really wasn’t anything more he could have done,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “It was really needed for him to get deep into the game, and he gave us even more than I thought with where his pitch count was early. But he found a way to get us into the eighth inning. He pitched his way through some jams there but found a way to make some pitches.”

The win marked just the second time all season that the struggling Giants (14-24) had won two consecutive games—giving them three wins in the last four games, to boot.

The win was much-needed for a ballclub that came into the season with championship aspirations, but has struggled mightily in all phases of the game, ranking dead last in the National League in runs scored and second-to-last in runs allowed.

“It was really important for us,” Bochy said. “You have a long game like that and you win it, you have some celebrating, but it can’t be long because you’re getting up early. You put the big win behind us, just like the tough losses, and come back out and win this ballgame. It was big.”

The game didn’t get off the most auspicious beginning for the Giants, however. Although left fielder Brandon Belt and right fielder Justin Ruggiano had provided an early jolt with solo home runs in the first and second innings, the lead appeared tenuous because Moore’s fastball command was missing in action after giving up 12 runs in his last two outings— he had to expend 57 pitches through three innings.

But Moore buckled down with runners on base: the Reds (19-17) finished the game stranding 11 baserunners and went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. With the help of his defense, the lone blemish on Moore’s line was  giving up a sixth-inning solo shot to Scott Schebler, who also chased Moore with one out in the eighth with a double down the left field line.

Even after 17 innings in the field Friday night, Crawford didn’t miss a beat, making several difficult plays look effortless, including a spinning throw to nab Scooter Gennett in the ninth inning.

Gennett lined a shot hard off the mound up the middle, but Crawford angled to his left, fielded the ball cleanly, and made a spinning throw to help Derek Law get the first out of the ninth inning.

Ever since Crawford’s return Thursday, the Giants have given up just six runs in their three games.

“It gets back to what our strength is, pitching and defense,” Bochy said. “We’re a different club with Crawford out there when you have a guy out there with his talent, he makes us that much better defensively. Those plays win ballgames for you.”

Moore flashed the leather himself too, nabbing a hard comebacker off the bat of first baseman Joey Votto in the fifth inning. Although he made it look easy, he said he barely knew how he made the play.

“I was kind of wondering how guys catch those at times,” Moore said. “No part of me knew what was happening. I threw the ball and then my hand started hurting, that was it.”

Despite their slick glovework and strong pitching, Bochy said the Giants will need to continue to add more power to an offense that has struggled mightily to collect extra-base hits. While the Giants have hit nine home runs in their past six games, eight of them have been solo homers—and they still rank dead last in slugging percentage in the National League.

“I like three-run homers, sure,” Bochy said. “I really believe we’re going to hit for more power. Not just home runs, doubles, triples too. We’re getting better swings off. It’s a lot easier to score when you add some slugging to the club. That still needs to go up, but you see what power does. Hopefully this continues, and we start doing this with some men on base.”


Cover Image:

San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Moore throws against the Cincinnati Reds during the sixth inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Saturday, May 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)